Guide to Client Service: Volume II, RelationshipsChapter five

Collaborating With Other Agencies

Agency Integration Best Practices

*IAT = Integrated Agency Team

In most cases, it’s rare that you’re the only agency (or vendor) that client has hired to help them achieve their business goals. And in some partnerships, clients will bring all their partners to the same table to help them collaborate on objectives & goals attainment.

For any great client relationship it’s important to know who else is involved, what is their role or objective, what do they care about, and how can better connect with them on the side. Below are some recommendations for how to build relationships with other non-client stakeholders to build strong relationships across the client’s partnerships.

 

Understand the Players

  • Who are the different agencies (aka “partners”) in the room (and not in the room)?
  • What are the other partners engaged/scoped for?
  • What is the role of each person on the partner’s team. Is there someone who is the clear relationship owner / decision maker? Is there someone who clearly drives the partnership? If so, understand how they work. Determine your counterparts and the account structure within the IAT so you know your “go-to” people.
  • Be mindful of the partners’ lines of business and capabilities to understand if there’s a risk of competition to keep a pulse on.

 

Relationship Building

Take the time to get to know your main agency Points of Contact and what they do for your mutual client.

  • If they’re local, recommend a face to face introduction over coffee. If they’re not local but near your client then make a point to meet up with them on your next visit.
  • Having a casual meet-up before you’re in an important client meeting together helps to break the ice and have common ground.
  • Learn from each other by sharing your perspective on your relationship, ways of working, and opportunities/roadblocks with the client.

**IMPORTANT** Do not to divulge confidential or sensitive information that the client wouldn’t be happy with if it got back to them! Make sure they know that you’re working together, and that the success of your relationship is vital to the health of the client.

 

Communication + Sharing Deliverables

A regular meeting with the IAT (just the agency partners, and not the client) has proven to be beneficial.

  • Depending on how closely you work together, a monthly or biweekly cadence is recommended.
    • Regular communication ensures alignment on your strategies and can determine efficiencies if there’s any overlap in your deliverables.
    • This shows your client that you’re proactively collaborating without them needing to hold your hand.
  • Ask for feedback: don’t be shy to ask for or recommend better ways to work together or with the client. Other agencies are an extension of our team and we can learn a lot from each other.

 

What Should We Be Sharing?

Do Share

  • Reporting
  • Findings that would impact their work
  • New strategies/major updates to current strategies
  • Project plans/timelines (if applicable)
  • Important client updates we receive that should be shared amongst all agencies
  • Industry updates

What to Ask Them to Share

  • Marketing plans
    •  Why? We can see holistically what’s slated for the year and not just what we have planned.
  • Media/PR calendars
    • Why? We know when things are going to market which could provide good insight into marketing strategies and reporting nuances.
  • Creative concepts/deliverables (if it’s an advertising/creative agency).
    • Why? If you’re working with an agency that generates content, see if you could offer support for new initiatives.
    • Why #2? There may be opportunities to connect better to advertising campaigns and allows us to be aware of changes in brand messaging/priorities.
  • Reporting (if you’re working with a media team or social media team)
    • Why? See if there’s any inconsistencies between our reporting or uncover insights we wouldn’t normally know about.
    • If you don’t already regularly send reporting to agency partners, it’s best to first get your client’s permission to share this information. Sometimes there may be information in our reports that a client may not want shared outside of the immediate partnership.

 

Presenting Together

  • If you’re working on a larger strategic presentation together, open lines of communication are essential so it doesn’t feel siloed to the client.
  • Align on content and responsibilities from the onset. Determine who the “lead” agency is if the client didn’t decide that for you (lead = main client contact for questions, scheduling, presenting logistics, etc.).
  • If possible, use a shared G-slides document (avoids formatting inconsistencies, can collaborate in real-time). IF sharing documents, refrain from having any confidential information in slides’ notes sections.
  • Just like you would have a presentation run-through with the internal team, have one with the IAT.
  • If agencies are local, try to meet face to face at least once during the creation of the presentation.It will better prepare you for the client meeting.
  • Align on roles and responsibilities of how you’re presenting: who’s introducing, who’s taking which slides, who’s wrapping up, etc.

 

As you can see, building relationships with agency partners is very similar to building relationships with clients or even other internal stakeholders at your company. It’s important to clearly understand who is doing what to help manage expectations across agencies, and for clients.